Climbing Out of a Hole: How to Play from Behind



Thu 9th Jan 2020 - 6:00pm

It always feels frustrating to watch your team fall into an early deficit in League of Legends. However, with the right decisions, you can help your team recover from mistakes and turn a potential loss into a victory. Mastering playing from a deficit takes patience and the ability to quickly determine what you can give up and what you must protect.

Strong Mental

The first step to winning a game from a deficit lies in your mental game. You can’t become affected or dwell on the mistakes that led to your team being in a deficit. You must be able to look forward to making correct decisions. If your team cannot grasp this and it is affecting your ability to look forward, then simply use /mute all and move forward with pings as communication. The moment you let someone get under your skin and attempt to type back you give up control on your decision making.

Always vote No!


While you don’t want to allow your opponents to end the game without a fight, you also don’t want to dig a deeper hole for yourself. You need to be able to take small victories and wait for the correct openings before committing to make the final comeback.

You must understand the balance of what you can concede in order to avoid larger losses and a potential snowball. This happens both during and after laning. An example of using patience is if you fall behind in lane you can avoid letting the enemy snowball their lead by taking bad back timing. This happens sometimes when you’re getting too low health and the enemy could get kill threat because of their advantage in the lane. Although you can lose a few waves or even some plates, it is worth it to give up these small concessions to avoid dying and losing even more.

An example of how to let small victories add up is to utilize individual picks when enemies get out of position. When you do this from a deficit you can use this period of time to get defensive vision so that you can approach objectives easier and close the gold lead. Although it might feel useless, these small steps forward in vision are quite valuable. After a collection of clean picks, your team might be caught up enough to use your vision to collapse on multiple people or even sneak an objective as well. If you aren’t willing to be patient and decide to turn the pick into a fight right away while still in deficit, you might end up losing a fight allowing the enemy to have unopposed objectives and vision control.

An important example of impatience to avoid is overreaching in an attempt to punish your opponents. In a situation where the opposing team was taking a tower and your team respawns many players think that you must attempt to punish them at that moment or you won’t be able to recover what you have lost. However, if they reset at the right time, chasing them just brings your team into a vulnerable position. However, this does not mean that you cannot get any payback. The enemy team will need to reset to spend their gold and refill their resources. This is the time when the enemy team is off the map and you can develop positional and vision advantage or even sneak a quick dragon before they can make it back out on the map. Many players will prefer to chase down opponents one at a time and allow their opponents to stagger deaths, which is a very bad mistake that will lead to massive losses.

Closing the Gold Gap

Generally, the further behind you are, up to a certain threshold, the smaller the victories you need to take at a time to avoid risk. As the gap closes you can force larger errors to complete the comeback. The important thing is to know the limit of how far you can go without being punished. As used in an earlier example, there are times when you may only be able to get a single pick and some vision down at first. Other times you may be able to reach as far as getting a few turrets, however, if you aren’t quick to disengage and reset at the right time you may end up getting caught after respawns and giving back the gold you just clawed back.

Forcing the errors is a result of good defensive vision, awareness, and ability to jump on the opportunity when it presents itself. If you are defending well and not overstepping, then you are going to force the enemy to rotate to avoid a stalemate. During these rotations, you want to search for a player who is isolated from their team somehow and collapse quickly on the pick. This will only be possible if you have vision in your jungle and your team is keeping an eye on the rotations so that they know where they can lie in wait for stragglers. You can also catch isolated players in side lanes if the enemy team is playing with more reliance on split pushers than rotations for cross-map pressure. This is a decision you must be careful about though, if you commit too heavily to a side lane then the opposing team can find objectives or fights that outweigh the individual kill.

Once you have created numbers advantage how do you create a substantial dent in the gold lead? To balloon these small errors into large comebacks you must use the numbers advantage to create openings for objectives, gain positional advantage, or even just vision control as any of these can help you continue to fight back. What decides how much you can grab onto before you can be caught overstepping? This depends on the intricacies of map positioning and details of the pick or picks that you managed to secure. The key things that will decide your following options involve; which team member you managed to pick off, what position your team and the opposing team is in, and where minion waves are on the map.

There are three important things to pay attention to when paying attention to which team member you picked off. First, you want to pay attention to the power of the team member that you picked off. If it is their support or one of the team members that wasn’t very powerful, you might only be able to settle for some vision control, while if it was their most fed member, you may be able to gain positional advantage on an objective while they are unable to fight. Next, it is important to note if it is their Jungler, as this allows you to gain priority on neutral objectives pretty easily. Finally, pay attention to if they have Teleport. If the player in question has Teleport, you must account for that when paying attention to respawn timers and how long you can extend for objectives safely.

When you manage to gain a numbers advantage on the map your time is limited based on how long until the player respawns. This means that you are limited by your position on the map and how many resources your team has. For example, if the opposing team is top lane when you make a quick collapse as a team in mid then you can likely rotate to make a quick dragon play before the opposing team can contest. If the dragon is not up, you might be able to rotate quickly to a tower that the opposing team isn’t in position to defend and get it for quick gold and map pressure. However, your resources are also important. If your carries are low on health or none of your players have ultimates or mana available, you might not be able to take an objective quick enough to avoid being collapsed on and have to settle for just the pick.

Minion waves can make or break an objective very easily. If you’re able to pick off a player when the opposing team doesn’t have any minion waves in position, that gives you a longer period of time without having to worry about trading objectives. While if they already had a minion wave on your tower, you’ll have almost no time before they’re able to strike a fatal blow to your base. If you have a slow push that has built up and made it close to a tower, you can rotate to that wave as a team and use it to take a tower quickly. Your worst-case scenario is if you have no minion waves close to enemy towers. In this case, you must choose between neutral objectives or vision control and defensive positioning to buy time.

A Stacked Minion Wave taking out a Tower

You may also be able to pull objective trades that while not necessarily closing the direct gold gap they will change the percentage of the gold difference. This follows the concept that a 1000 gold deficit at 15 minutes is a large advantage and at 25 minutes is hardly a difference at all. However, when trading objectives for it to actually be even, you have to be able to make it back to your base in time to defend your team from larger losses. This means you must be looking far enough forward that you don’t evenly trade a tower only for you to watch as the enemy team snatches an extra tower or dragon before you can get defensive positioning back. This means you generally have to initiate the objective trades with quick rotations onto a minion wave that can help your team complete objectives or by leaving your wave clear in base so they can slow down your opponent’s approach.

Go out and secure some satisfying comeback victories! Good luck in Solo Queue!

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